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Thread: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

  1. #61
    Senior Member Leong23's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Thanks, taken tonight with 50mmf1.2 wide open at MFD.

  2. #62

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Thanks all and no hard feeling!!

    It is through such vigorous exchange that we learn ... or confuse ourselves.

    I think it is a good exercise to air what has been arguing for many years and how various interpretations has influenced us on the understanding of the word Bokeh.

    Depth of field (DOF), refers to the area of an image that is in focus ie. The Subject. Irregardless of whether it has a wide DOF or a Narrow DOF as long as the subject matter is in focus and it meet the photogs objective in presenting the image as he sees in his minds eyes.

    No one take a photo purely for the bokeh and forgot about the main subject, except me in trying to prove a point went ahead and took the bokeh shot with a canon 24-70 L wide open and intentionally put it out of focus to get those dounut shape bokeh on street lights 400 meters away . It is how the Bokeh works with the main subject that matter, hence the reference to the quality of a Bokeh to the main subject . The quality aspect of a bokeh is hence subjective and only valid in a specific setting , whether it enhances or distract the viewer from the main subject, more or less blur might not work as well . However,not all good bokeh will enhance a subject, one factor is whether the tone and shade of the bokeh can harmonious blend with and enhance the subject.

    In most photographic situation you are likely to see images where the main subject is in focus, unless narrow DOF is used to accentuate or emphasize a particular feature of the subject. The area that covers the focused area is where the DOF was intended to be and as long as it is sufficient to cover the subject the way the photog wants it.... it meet the creator's requirement.The resultant background could likely be out of focus or totally blured when Narrow DOF is intentionally use.

    Some on the net went further to add that blur area due to shallow DOF should not be called bokeh. What then define bokeh ? Nothing in the defination specify what is excluded as bokeh. The degree of blur or Bokeh is tied to DOF for the main subject no doubt . But to those advocates that says shallow DOF is not Bokeh . This will have to be qualified further by defining what range of F/setting(DOF) on the main subject is considered a DOF blur and not a Bokeh. A few also explained that this blur must have some texture or contrast to qualify as a bokeh. But virtual that you can see the blur it shows that it has some different shade in the composition of the Blur . So how do one quantify this shades then to qualify it as bokeh?

    Bokeh to some also means the appearance of light that is seen within the blured part of the photograph . some even go to the extend by advocating the light has to be from a point source, hence the many that illustrate bokeh with donut shape light blur from a point source. To me this light may not neccessarily be a point source , all that you can see in the OOF area are reflected light, if not you see black and there is no bokeh to speak of.

    Another argurment is how can the word bokeh mean 'the quality of the OOF'? If one were to state that the canon XX/50mm lens produces Bokeh . The listener will be non the wiser as to what he meant, as all lens produce Bokeh be it good or bad, depending on wheter it complement the main subject, and never by itself. It also has to be qualified with good, bad, distracting.

    So to some Bokeh is the blur that the interpreter with his little h added to the Japanese word Boke intended it to be.... just Blur. My guess is just like us this new words in English prick the interest of photographers and they were trying to interpret this exotic foreign word and ended up adding various enbellishment of meaning of it before Bokeh entered the English dictionary as 'quality of Blur"

    Whatever it is to me a blur is a blur, how good or bad this blur is , is very subjective. Our headache is photogs all over the world are having different bokeh standard and we are also ""Bokeh like sotong"", depending on where we read from, trying to interpret what a whiteman meant by referring to these sites the translation of a Japanese word.LOL


    Cheers!
    Last edited by Bluesteel; 5th December 2009 at 02:05 AM.

  3. #63

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesteel View Post
    Hi Edwin,
    I fully understand what the definition is , the quality of this blur ......, But I have doubt some do, and hence the claim and reference to site that state Bokeh and DOF Blur are of different thing. Try as I may I could not peg down this subtle differentiation from what I can understand, in that definition you quoted.
    The lens use is immaterial as some mentioned in one of the post . So My question on the image is :
    Is this shot consider a Bokeh or a shadow DOF Blur.
    You're right -- it is a subtle difference, and it's more a question of language than photography. As long as you know what effect you're after, what you call it does not matter. It does raise confusion in discussions though. I am particular about the proper use of jargon because I have been confused by 'facts' other photographers told me in the past that were just not true -- myths, misunderstandings and misuse of terms.

    Getting to your image, I would not call it a 'bokeh shot' because that = 'quality of OOF areas shot' i.e. meaningless, similar to calling it a 'sharpness shot'.
    You could call it a 'good bokeh shot', if you think it displays good bokeh, i.e. if you like the quality of the OOF areas. The size of the circle-of-confusion (COC - what a point turns into when it is not in focus) is not the important issue, good quality is about soft, gradual softening towards the edges.

    From what I understand, your shot is an example of neutral bokeh - even tone through the COC, which is characteristic of a good lens. (more info, if you want it -- http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/bokeh.htm)

    'Shallow DOF blur shot' is odd too, because, well, the whole image is OOF. Now if you focused on someone in the foreground, leaving the lights in the background to go out of focus, you could call that a 'Shallow DOF blur shot', but a better and more accepted term is Selective Focus shot.

    Why am I resistant to using 'Shallow DOF'? You can show bokeh (good or bad) with a deep DOF shot, as long as there are some areas OOF. This is probably more common with Foreground blur -- no one said bokeh only applies to Background blur, right?

    One question -- you mentioned "The lens use is immaterial as some mentioned in one of the post". Where was that from -- because as you know, image bokeh is a result of the lens used.

  4. #64

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Hi Edwin,

    Thanks for trying to interpret the "Bokeh" shot and the Link !

    I must have mis-understood the highlighted text on this particular post of yours in reply to Anthony at Post #31, if so my sincere apologies!

    Perhaps its just a choice of words, but you seem to have taken offence at Rendition's comments -- I don't think his intention was to criticise, but merely to point out that it's difficult to judge bokeh, the quality of the OOF areas, in your and Bluesteel's shots because they were so far OOF and lacking in details and contrast. Either highlights or some details would help, as displayed in the earlier example by Soons (not very nice bokeh, as he says). I don't see the point of bringing up what other lenses you could have used -- it is irrelevant and no one is impugning your photographic skills.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by Bluesteel; 5th December 2009 at 03:10 AM.

  5. #65

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Lee View Post
    bokeh |bōˈkā|
    So 'bokeh' is a noun which stands for 'visual quality of the out-of-focus of a photographic image.......'. Therefore, any out-of-focus area of a photographic image can be termed 'bokeh', whether good or bad.

    Then, my question will be, why both 'bluesteel' post and mine were not classified as examples of photographic images with bokehs? And, what has the defination of the word bokeh help in the explanation of the difference between 'shallow DOF' and bokeh?

    By the way, this photo was shot indoor wide open with my CZ T* Plannar 50 f1.7.
    Again, it's just a question of language, unimportant if you know what effect you want and how to get it.
    Bokeh does not refer to the OOF area. You actually said it in your first line above -- bokeh refers to the quality of the OOF area, or more accurately to the quality of all the OOF areas in the image.
    Translating "Bokeh => Quality of OOF areas" into "Bokeh => OOF areas" doesn't make sense, does it?

    Quality here refers to how nicely the OOF areas are rendered -- you can see the diff in my earlier HDB examples. Your baby photo displays good bokeh (IMHO) -- the OOF areas (next to the door in particular) blur nicely.
    If you had used a smaller aperture, the DOF would be increased, and the background blur would be lower, but that doesn't mean less or worse bokeh, just less blurring. The quality or 'character' of the blurring would be the same.

    Re your second question, why someone said your and Bluesteel's images couldn't display bokeh -- in order to judge or appreciate the bokeh of an image, there must be some detail in the OOF areas. In the 2 images, the OOF areas are so OOF that there is almost no detail.

    In my earlier testing, I took 2 very OOF shots, one with my 'good bokeh' lens, the other with the 'bad bokeh' setup:

    Good Bokeh - far OOF


    Bad Bokeh - far OOF


    It is harder to tell the difference between the bokeh of these than my earlier, less OOF shots, right? Despite the fact that there is some tonal variation. In Bluesteel's butterfly shot, the background is almost flat. It works for the shot, and is a great example of Selective Focus, but the quality of the OOF areas is hard to discern.

    Hope that clears things up.

  6. #66

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    i am frequently amazed how much can be talked about a simple word.

  7. #67

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesteel View Post
    Hi Edwin,

    Thanks for trying to interpret the "Bokeh" shot and the Link !

    I must have mis-understood the highlighted text on this particular post of yours in reply to Anthony at Post #31, if so my sincere apologies!

    Cheers!
    No worries, no offence was taken, and I hope it is the same for everyone here!

    I've learned a few things along the way too -- this is the first time I actually tested the bokeh of my lenses!

  8. #68

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    i am frequently amazed how much can be talked about a simple word.
    Wait till someone starts on "sharpness"

  9. #69
    Senior Member
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    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Francis View Post
    Wait till someone starts on "sharpness"
    Linguist confuses. To me bokeh or sometimes I pronounce it as boka, is background blur, without it, there is no boka.
    Home is where the heart is.

  10. #70

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Bluesteel, u r right. A lot factor to form this nice 'bokeh'
    There is no formula for this!

  11. #71

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Lee View Post
    sometimes I pronounce it as boka
    why pronounce it "boka"?

    bokeh = 暈け = bo ke (boh kay)

    In Japanese it is actually a verb 暈ける meaning, to be faded; to be hazy; to be blurred; to be out of focus.
    Last edited by icelava; 5th December 2009 at 09:35 PM.

  12. #72

    Default Re: Is it possible to have too much bokeh?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesteel View Post
    Thanks all and no hard feeling!!

    It is through such vigorous exchange that we learn ... or confuse ourselves.

    I think it is a good exercise to air what has been arguing for many years and how various interpretations has influenced us on the understanding of the word Bokeh.

    Depth of field (DOF), refers to the area of an image that is in focus ie. The Subject. Irregardless of whether it has a wide DOF or a Narrow DOF as long as the subject matter is in focus and it meet the photogs objective in presenting the image as he sees in his minds eyes.

    No one take a photo purely for the bokeh and forgot about the main subject, except me in trying to prove a point went ahead and took the bokeh shot with a canon 24-70 L wide open and intentionally put it out of focus to get those dounut shape bokeh on street lights 400 meters away . It is how the Bokeh works with the main subject that matter, hence the reference to the quality of a Bokeh to the main subject . The quality aspect of a bokeh is hence subjective and only valid in a specific setting , whether it enhances or distract the viewer from the main subject, more or less blur might not work as well . However,not all good bokeh will enhance a subject, one factor is whether the tone and shade of the bokeh can harmonious blend with and enhance the subject.

    In most photographic situation you are likely to see images where the main subject is in focus, unless narrow DOF is used to accentuate or emphasize a particular feature of the subject. The area that covers the focused area is where the DOF was intended to be and as long as it is sufficient to cover the subject the way the photog wants it.... it meet the creator's requirement.The resultant background could likely be out of focus or totally blured when Narrow DOF is intentionally use.

    Some on the net went further to add that blur area due to shallow DOF should not be called bokeh. What then define bokeh ? Nothing in the defination specify what is excluded as bokeh. The degree of blur or Bokeh is tied to DOF for the main subject no doubt . But to those advocates that says shallow DOF is not Bokeh . This will have to be qualified further by defining what range of F/setting(DOF) on the main subject is considered a DOF blur and not a Bokeh. A few also explained that this blur must have some texture or contrast to qualify as a bokeh. But virtual that you can see the blur it shows that it has some different shade in the composition of the Blur . So how do one quantify this shades then to qualify it as bokeh?

    Bokeh to some also means the appearance of light that is seen within the blured part of the photograph . some even go to the extend by advocating the light has to be from a point source, hence the many that illustrate bokeh with donut shape light blur from a point source. To me this light may not neccessarily be a point source , all that you can see in the OOF area are reflected light, if not you see black and there is no bokeh to speak of.

    Another argurment is how can the word bokeh mean 'the quality of the OOF'? If one were to state that the canon XX/50mm lens produces Bokeh . The listener will be non the wiser as to what he meant, as all lens produce Bokeh be it good or bad, depending on wheter it complement the main subject, and never by itself. It also has to be qualified with good, bad, distracting.

    So to some Bokeh is the blur that the interpreter with his little h added to the Japanese word Boke intended it to be.... just Blur. My guess is just like us this new words in English prick the interest of photographers and they were trying to interpret this exotic foreign word and ended up adding various enbellishment of meaning of it before Bokeh entered the English dictionary as 'quality of Blur"

    Whatever it is to me a blur is a blur, how good or bad this blur is , is very subjective. Our headache is photogs all over the world are having different bokeh standard and we are also ""Bokeh like sotong"", depending on where we read from, trying to interpret what a whiteman meant by referring to these sites the translation of a Japanese word.LOL


    Cheers!
    Well ...

    DOF is DOF.

    Bokeh is Bokeh.

    Two different things but latter cannot exist without the former it seems.

    Bokeh, while generally regarded as an adjective, can be quantified in terms of physics and complex laws that (probably) no layman ever wants to get into.

    But the qualification of Bokeh is where most people end up debating the most.

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